South Yorkshire tot’s brave battle against eye cancer

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A blind couple have spoken of their daughter’s brave fight with a rare form of eye cancer.

Parents Chris Blackabee and Serevine Renard were devastated when their first child Siri May was born with retinoblastoma.

Chris Blackabee and Severine Renard from Mexborough with daughter Siri who has the rare retinoblastoma. They, too, are both blind and are raising money with Vision Express

Chris Blackabee and Severine Renard from Mexborough with daughter Siri who has the rare retinoblastoma. They, too, are both blind and are raising money with Vision Express

The same genetic condition had claimed the sight of her mother and also put Siri May at an increased risk of other cancers.

The 15-month-old quickly developed tumours in her eye and had to undergo an intense 18-week course of chemotherapy at Sheffield Children’s Hospital before her first birthday.

While Siri May still has full vision in her right eye, her left one was damaged and she remains under close watch from medics.

But the inspirational girl has taken her ordeal in her stride, said Chris, aged 44, and Serevine, aged 40, of Mexborough - and the pair added they ‘could not be more proud’ of her.

Serevine, who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at six months, said: “It was very hard knowing that my baby had a 50 per cent chance of inheriting my condition.

“I had to have my first eye removed when I was six months old and my second when I was 19 months. Then when I was growing up I had bladder cancer.

“When we found out Siri had retinoblastoma it was difficult, but the treatment is much more advanced than it was when I was growing up.”

Chris, who was born blind, added: “We knew there was a risk but I thought that if she did have problems with her sight it is no reason she can’t lead a happy and full life.

“I consider myself to have done alright.”

Caring for Siri May is full-time work for Serevine and Chris, who must take their daughter to specialists in London every six weeks for eye examinations.

But at home the couple have adapted to life with a growing baby without additional help.

They attach bells to their daughter’s clothes to ensure she never ventures too far from their side and Siri May has also just started nursery.

Chris, a former bank business manager, said: “Siri is just like any other 17-month-old, she’s progressing as she should and is a happy, bouncy girl.”

Serevine added: “It changes from one day to the next, we manage to look after her but we will see as she grows up.”

The family have shared their story to raise awareness for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, a charity which has provided them with support since Siri’s diagnosis.

Staff at Vision Express stores across the UK, including Sheffield’s Meadowhall centre, are raising money for the organisation through a number of sponsored events and sales.

Chris, an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “We’re trying to raise awareness of the condition and help the charity because they have supported us.

“When Serevine was growing up not that much was known about it. Now there is more knowledge and better treatment which means Siri’s outcome could be much better.”